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Saturday, August 29, 2009

An Eagle Rock man who explored Los Angeles one step at a time

Growing up in Silver Lake, Bob Inman frequently climbed up and down the public stairways near his Waverly Drive neighborhood. But, outside the stairs leading down to Fletcher and Riverside drives, Inman was never aware of the many other stairways that crossed the hills of Silver Lake, Echo Park and other older neighborhoods.As an adult, however, Inman has joined the growing ranks of L.A. stairway fans who huff-and-puff up and down these stairs on their own or as part of a group. Inman's interest in stairways has lead him to explore neighborhoods across the city and even help reopen a stairway blocked by residents. Now, the 59-year-old Eagle Rock resident has poured his passion into a book, A Guide to the Public Stairways of Los Angeles. The book - filled with maps, routes, photos and facts - has lead another stairway aficionado to hail Inman as a "Stairway God."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A look back at Silver Lake's Waverly District

Diane Edwardson at the Corralitas Red Car Property blog is publishing some aerial photos and other images of Silver Lake taken during the 1950s by the late Clarence Inman, a Silver Lake resident who worked for the city's Recreation and Parks Department. Inman lived in the Waverly District on the north end of Silver Lake where the bluffs rise above the Los Angeles River and the 5 Freeway. Click on the 1954 photo above for a view of the Waverly District and the now demolished Monte Sarno hospital and Red Car Line substation, located near Waverly Drive and Glendale Boulevard. More photos on the Corralitas Red Car Property blog.

Photo from the Clarence Inman Collection/Corralitas Red Car Property

Monday, August 24, 2009

A forgotten Elysian Heights artist returns to the spotlight - at least for one month

The cover of the September issue of Westways magazine features the black-and-white print of a well known local landmark - the Glendale-Hyperion bridge - created by an artist far fewer residents will recognize: Paul Landacre. The legacy of the artist who lived in the Elysian Heights section of Echo Park - or, as Westways describes it, "east of Silver Lake" - has been mostly forgotten by the general public. But Landacre (1893-1963) was at one time regarded as one of the nation's top wood engravers, whose dramatic black-and-white prints were featured in Westways and other publications (the September Westways story is not yet online).

Landacre carved wood blocks by hand in his home and studio, a small cabin on a narrow, winding street called El Moran. He and his wife, Margaret, moved into the house in the early 1930s and lived their until they died more than 30 years later, according to the Echo Park Historical Society. The wooded hillsides provided Landacre not only refuge but inspiration for his environmental pieces. The house was declared a City of Los Angeles Cultural Historic Monument in 2006.

Related story:

* Engraver Paul Landacre profiled. LA Weekly

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The photographer of modern Los Angeles living preferred a traditional home in Echo Park

The photographs of mid-century homes by Maynard Parker helped promote the reputation of Los Angeles as a city fascinated with the new. Thousands of his photos, which appeared in the pages of the Los Angeles Times and national home decor magazines, are being put online by the Huntington Library, according to the LA Times and Curbed LA. But while Parker was known for capturing images of trend-setting West Coast homes, he and his family lived in a traditional house - complete with shutters and a white picket fence - on Lemoyne Street in Echo Park. The house, with the exception of new paint and mature landscaping, looks pretty much the same today (bottom image) as it did about sixty years ago when it made appearances in national magazines (top image).


He was obviously proud of the hilltop house on Lemoyne Street because it showed up in some of his published photos, including the cover of House Beautiful. Parker also used his family as well as neighbors in the shots, according to the Echo Park Historical Society:

"Maynard and his wife, Annie May Parker, moved to Echo Park in the late 1930s. They spent some time on Delta Street before building their lifelong home in 1939. That home, which stands at 2230 Lemoyne Street, soon showed up on the cover of home and garden magazines – along with Maynard's two daughters, who could be seen picking flowers or having a picnic. His daughter Ann showed up on a World War II era cover of House Beautiful. Eventually, his neighbors got into the act as well. Beverly Graham, who has lived in Echo Park since 1933, remembers posing for Parker as he shot various outdoor garden scenes. 'He loves his hill,' Beverly Graham recalled."

Top image from HistoricEchoPark.org

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pricey penthouse living coming to Angeleno Heights

A new Angeleno Heights condo project is going to test the health of the local real estate market with penthouse units in the renovated brick building topping the $1 million mark. But will buyers overlook the fact that the still-under-construction Brownstone Lofts overlook the 101 freeway right next door?

Not surprisingly, the agent for Brownstone Lofts said the proxmity of the 55-unit building to the freeway won't be an issue. A sound wall will help absorb the traffic noise, said Millie Radkovich, who said she once sold units next to the much nosier 405 Freeway. "With the sound wall ... it shouldn't be a problem," she said. There will also be a pool, spa, roof top decks and other amenities to attract buyers to the 1928 building.

The units, which are expected to start $399,000 for singles, are not on officially on the market yet as work - including a parking garage - continues on the former Bellevue Avenue apartment house in the eastern fringe of Angeleno Heights. But the owner is taking reservations on homes and a model unit is expected to be ready by next month, Radkovich said.

The prices might seem a bit steep in light of the fact that so many nearby downtown condo projects have gone into foreclosure or have been turned into rental housing. But Radkovich said the demand for new housing in neighborhoods just outside of downtown seems ready to pick up and there has been little in the way of new construction.

"I think the market is a little bit on an upswing."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Arroyo Seco Living circa 1909

It was 100 years ago when a group of artists, craftsman and architects living along the Arroyo Seco in Highland Park, Pasadena and other nearby communities published the first issue of the Arroyo Craftsman. The issue featured stories on the "Fundamental of Landscape Gardening" and "Collecting Indian Baskets." Unfortunately, the October 1909 was the only issue ever printed.

But current day Arroyo Seco residents can still buy reprints of the book, published by Highland Park's own Judson Studios, at the newly discount price of $10 via American Bungalow magazine. Here's a description:

"The Arroyo Guild of Fellow Craftsmen-a group of artists, architects and other craftsmen who flourished on the banks of the Arroyo Seco in the Pasadena/Los Angeles area-published one issue only of their magazine, the Arroyo Craftsman. Reprinted by The Judson Studios, a fourth and fifth generation stained-glass business and art gallery, the two-color, 84-page book has original 1909-era ads, essays and practical articles.

A great window into the movement's past, the Arroyo Craftsman is available exclusively through American Bungalow. Now is your chance to own a copy signed by David Judson, the great-great-grandson of group founder W.L. Judson."

Image from judsonstudios.com

Monday, August 3, 2009

What would you pay for Sister Aimee's "plant pot"

A Sunland resident in financial difficulties is selling what he claims is a cement planter box that belonged to legendary evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson when she lived in Echo Park next to her church, Angelus Temple. The planter is available to the highest bidder on Craigslist:

his was given to me by a Angelus temple member about 10 years ago when I was a member, they knew of my great interest in Aimee. It measures 15" tall & 15 1/2" square. When I got it it had no paint left, I saw faint traces of paint & re-painted it in the colors I believed were original. It had a few surface cracks in it that didn't effect the integrity of the piece, but I filled them with epoxy glue to keep from getting bigger. The inside is marked as "USA" made, has a drain hole at the bottom. This is a very heavy piece, so I don't want to put it up on Ebay and have to mail it. Local pick-up only on this."
Will Sister Aimee's planter return to Echo Park or remain stuck in the Valley?

Photo from Craiglist. Thank to Kevin Kuzma for the tip.